Newberry Hill is the kind of small farm community that’s so forgettable you almost forget about it when you’re there. I wonder how many places there are like this across the world. Millions? Who knows? More importantly who cares? As benefits my status as a fake noble lady I was given the finest bed in town – which I believe means that the lice have pedigree papers. Thankfully I was able to use the magic of my dress to delouse myself. I wish I could say the same for the Marcher bastard – that little punk is crawling with the ugly buggers.
Talking with the townfolk this abduction seems nothing like the farmer’s wife getting sucked into a mirror. The tale here is that a hill giant stomped into town, tore a hut open and grabbed the old lady who lived in it – stuffing her into a sack and stomping off. Much like dragons, giants are something I’ve never had the horrible pleasure of seeing in real life. Unlike dragons I’ve always known they were real because back at court every few months some knights would gather up and go fight some giants that had eaten an entire village such as this one. Some of the knights would come back. Sometimes. Giants really seem to love eating people. But it doesn’t seem likely that a giant would abduct one old lady just to eat her right?
“Quinna how do you think your dogs would fare against a hill giant?”
“About as well as a rat attacking a bear.”
“Wonderful. I guess I’ll just have to charm the brute with my beauty and grace.”
The bastard managed to stop scratching long enough to chime in “Why are we even doing this? This doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the farmer’s wife.”
“It seems quite silly to ignore one adduction over another. With all due respect to Old Sheriff Martin someone has to keep the law around here – you can’t have giants carrying people off as happy as you like. Even if they are old people.”
“He probably already ate her.”
“Probably, so then we avenge her!”
“How do you avenge someone with beauty and grace?”
“You’d be surprised.”
We headed out on a different trail, heading north and crossing the river again. There’s an old wives tale that states if you cross the same river the three times in three days you’ll be granted good fortune. Clearly these old wives haven’t met a ferryman – they’re generally a very misfortunate bunch. There’s one good thing about tailing a giant – the tracks are easy to follow, just monitor the path of destruction. Late in the day we came across a pasture where several cattle pieces lay in stinking bloody hunks. It was enough to turn the stomach right quick. The dogs enjoyed it though.
As we walked through the carnage a young girl came running towards us – she was around the same age as the bastard, tall, blonde, wearing a checked peasant dress and the whole nine yards. She even had a bonnet on, I haven’t seen one of those in years. I didn’t think anyone still wore those. The bastard was about to clock her in the head with his cudgel before I grabbed it away from him.
“What the Hells are you doing?”
“I thought she was attacking us.”
“With what, her dolly?”
She got a sour look on her face “I don’t play with dollies anymore!”
“Calm down, it’s a figure of speech.”
The girl told us that when the giant came through here just yesterday in addition to bashing cattle it also made off with her parents and two older brothers.
“We’re on our way to rescue someone else that giant took so you’re in luck, we’ll rescue your family as well.
She looked at us dubiously “How are you going to defeat a hill giant?”
“With pluck and determination. Just kidding, I know a magic word that allows me to control giants.”
Quinna’s eye bugged out “You do?” I shot him a dirty look “Oh right, right, the magic word.”
The girl had three younger siblings she was looking after – two sisters and a brother – so we left the bastard with her to help out while Quinna and I pressed on. He bellyached about it in only the way a preteen boy can.
“Look, play your cards right and this could be your future wife.”
“Girls are gross!”
“Alright, I tell you what, if you know my name I’ll stay here without complaint until you get back. IF you come back.”
“Deal . . . . hm . . . . ssssssssssssss . . . . S something. Sammy? Sammmmmmmmmmmu . . . samu something. Samuel? No. Something weird. Samuwirth.”
“You got lucky” he grumbled.
“Yeah, you get to stay here safe and sound while I go after a giant – YOU got lucky.”
A few hours of walking later Quinna and I could smell cooking flesh on the wind.
“What do you think, cow or human?”
Over a rise in a rocky area was one of the largest yet sorriest looking campfires I have ever seen – over which a haunch of something was being roasted by a female hill giant. No one had mentioned the gender before. Somehow that made it even more hideous. Her arms were about twice as long as her legs, which were a little stumpy – you know, for a giant. Said arms emerged from a very strangely rounded set of shoulders. Her head seemed too small and was weirdly slopped on top of that. The whole make-up just seemed slipshod and makeshift, like whichever God made these things was in a hurry. Maybe they had theater tickets. What made it even worse though is that her hair was incongruously thick and luscious looking, a most pleasing shade of red. It almost looked styled.
She was singing, which was awful (and LOUD) and drinking some kind of fermented concoction out of what appeared to be a shipping tun – the stench of which was assaulting my nostrils from sixty yards away. There was a large sack on the ground beside her which appeared to be moving, so I guess this is our girl. Quinna was trying to keep his dogs calm, which were clearly freaked out by the scent of this monster.
“What the plan?”
“I’ll use the magic of my dress to enchant her and we’ll grab the hostages, easy-peasy.”
“You have a magic dress?”
“Of course, why else would I wear this shade of green? I’m a light summer, I look totally washed out in this.”
“I think it looks nice.”
“Well you don’t know what you’re talking about. We can talk about this after the giant kills us, let’s go.”
We approached cautiously, moving from boulder to boulder (what happened here anyway, where did all these boulders come from?) and once close I stepped out and summoned the fey magic of my dress – which proceeded to do nothing. The giant had a ring on her finger that flared and I believe canceled out my magic. She didn’t seem to notice this even happening, so I slipped back before the rocks. I ignored Quinna’s blathering and activated my Beastspeech.
“Alright dogs, here’s the plan, I’m going to go out there and distract this thing. Mechas you sneak around and go for that sack, you see it? If there are people in there you help them get out and then lead them away. The rest of you stay ready in case things go bad. But don’t try to fight this thing, it will swat you like flies – just run around and bark a lot and harry it. If you can bite at it from behind go ahead but under no circumstances get in front of it in the reach of those arms. You got it?”
Gale spoke for the pack “We won’t fail you master.”
Quinna was agog. “You can speak with animals?!”
“I can do a lot of things, don’t worry about it. You just sit tight.”
I stepped back out and approached the giant and her roasting spit a little closer but not much.
“Excuse me, Miss . . . Giant.”
She finally registered that someone was there and swung her inappropriately small head around and boomed out in a voice that sounded like she had a mouthful of food even though she didn’t.
“Har! Who are you? There’s barely any meat on you for my fire!”
“Yes, I’m quite inedible. I just happened to be walking by and heard your singing and had to come see who was making such incredible noises.”
She stroked her throat in a way that made me vaguely disgusted for reasons I don’t quite explain “Har! Yes, it’s all in the wattle! That’s why you ugly little people can’t sing, your smooth necks don’t allow for it!”
She leaned forward to peer more closely “Yes! Looking at you makes me want to shit! Your arms are so puny! And your skin it’s all the same color! No splotches or patches at all, and no hairy moles! No hair anywhere but the top of your head! Not to mention those breasts – they’re so tiny! You’re revolting.”
“I mean , I think for my size my breasts are . . .”
“Har, no! You’re awful to behold! I’m surprised I don’t turn to stone just looking at you!”
Mechas had a heck of a time getting the bag open – untying a knot with your teeth is harder than it seems, trust me on that one – but the giant seemed to be having a grand old time insulting me so I was able to keep her occupied for several minutes. Eventually the rope holding the bag slipped enough for the sack to open and one by one out wiggled two boys, a couple, and an old lady. Thankfully they were smart enough to stay low and follow the dog once they were all out – and thankfully the giant was so loud I doubt she could hear anything but her own voice. Once they were clear it was time to make my exit.
“Well this has been lovely, but I should get going.”
The hill giant heaved herself to her feet like a reverse avalanche of flesh “No, you’re too ugly to live, I smash you now!”
I have no idea if I can outrun a hill giant, and I didn’t need to find out. I flung my Rope at her which wrapped her up tight – I wasn’t sure if it would hold her but it did. For about twenty seconds. I can run pretty far in twenty seconds though. The dogs jumped in as well and lured the rampaging she-giant off to the west. We all reconvened a few minutes later, one of the dogs even had my Rope – by which I mean I think the Rope latched onto the dog, which is interesting, is this thing intelligent? Nevertheless I told the dog what a good boy it was and the rope what a good rope it was just to be safe. This drew a strange look from Quinna. In return I dropped him a sassy wink. I looked over the gathered former hostages.
“Now what’s what I call a rescue.”
Inventory: Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Dagger of Venom, Bracers of Armor +2, Ring of Protection +2, Rope of Entanglement, Enchanted Feycloth Dress (Green), Light Crossbow
Revenge List: Duke Eaglevane,
Piltis Swine, Rince
Electrum, watchman Gridley, White-Muzzle the worg, Percy Ringle
the butler , Alice Kinsey , “ Patch”, Heroes of the Lost Sword, Claire
Conrad, Erist priest of Strider, Riselda owner of the Sage Mirror,
Eedraxis, Skin-Taker tribe,
Kartak, Królewna & Bonifacja Trading Company, Hurmont Family,
Androni Titus, Greasy dreadlocks woman, Lodestone Security, Kellgale
Nickoslander, Beltian Kruin the Splithog Pauper, The King of Spiders, Auraluna
Domiel, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee, Helgan van Tankerstrum, Lightdancer,
Bonder Greysmith, Pegwhistle Proudfoot, Lumbfoot Sheepskin